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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on February 25th, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Malik v. Bhargava
A woman filed suit against a physician alleging that his failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism resulted in her former spouse’s death. The defendant physician moved for summary judgment, arguing that the woman lacked standing to bring a wrongful death claim because she was not married to the decedent. Although the woman alleged the divorce was purely for financial reasons and the couple had an informal marriage, the Dallas appellate court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment, noting that the woman had testified in her deposition that the couple did not plan to remarry until after resolving their unresolved financial problems.

Cervantes v. McKellar
A woman whose child was born with encephalopathy filed suit against the medical center where the child was delivered, alleging that the staff’s failure to monitor a fetal heart monitor caused the child’s injury. The medical center, a governmental entity, filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting sovereign immunity. The Texarkana appellate court affirmed the trial court’s granting of the plea to the jurisdiction, holding the claims did not involve the use of tangible property, as required to establish immunity had been waived, but rather the misuse of information.

University of Texas Health Science Center v. Dickerson
The mother of an infant that died from a streptococcus infection filed suit alleging that the results of a blood culture that tested positive were never communicated to her by hospital staff, depriving her of the chance to purse life-saving treatment for her daughter. The defendant hospital filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that as a governmental entity it was covered by sovereign immunity. The mother alleged that immunity was waived through the misuse of tangible equipment, including a telephone and computer, that she argued should have been used to communicate the results of the blood test to her. The Houston appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial of the plea to the jurisdiction, holding that the claims involved the failure to communicate information, rather than the use of tangible property.

NEWS

Woman Develops Process to Run 30 Lab Tests on Single Blood Drop
A California woman has developed a blood-testing service that requires only a single blood drop to perform blood tests cheaper and faster than with conventional methods. Her company, which introduced its services at a Palo Alto, California Walgreen’s last year, estimates that the technology could someday save Medicare and Medicaid billions of dollars.

25 Charged in $500 Million Pain-Pill Ring
Twenty-five people have been charged with being involved in the operation of an alleged pill mill that officials say provided more than 5 million oxycodone pills to pharmacies in New York and throughout the country.

Feds Propose Medicare Advantage Payment Cuts
The Obama administration has proposed spending cuts that would reduce Medicare Advantage spending by 3.55%. Last year, Medicare officials had proposed reducing the Medicare Advantage payments by 2.2%, but changed course in response to a strong industry lobbying campaign and instead raised the rate by 3.3%. Critics of the proposed cuts caution that seniors in the program could lose benefits and may face higher premiums.

Medicare Releases ACO Quality Measure Data
Medicare has released data from 2012 on five of the 33 quality measures being used to track how well accountable care organizations are caring for patients. The data reflect that the average ACO reached the Medicare goals for 65% to 75% of their patients. Four of the quality measures evaluated how well the ACOs had helped patients with diabetes, while the fifth measure examined how many patients with arterial plaque were receiving appropriate medication.

ACOG Urges Members to Reduce Number of C-sections
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released new guidelines encouraging its members to allow women with low-risk pregnancies to spend more time in labor prior to recommending a caesarean section. The recommendation follows recent studies that suggest that an increase in caesarean sections over the past decade has not led to better outcomes for women or infants.

Flu Hitting Young Harder
The flu is hitting younger individuals harder this year than in previous years, according to the Center for Disease Control. People between the ages of 18 and 64 represent 61% of all flu-related hospitalizations this season, compared to 35% in previous years.

Study Finds Patients Find Online Physician Ratings Useful
Among individuals who used an online physician review in the last year, 93% reported that the ratings were either somewhat useful or very useful in making a decision about a doctor. However, another recent study focused on online ratings for urologists found on average there were only 2.4 reviews per physician, suggesting that ratings are vulnerable to being skewed by a single positive or negative review.

Report Finds Hospital Networks, Equipment Frequently Under Cyber Attack
Last month, over the course of one month more than 50,000 unique cyber-attacks occurred across more than 700 devices, according to a recent report on cyber security in the health care industry. The attacks were committed against a broad spectrum of targets, including billing systems, as well as radiology equipment and dialysis machines.

Researchers Call for Interdisciplinary Approach to Infection Prevention
Nurses cannot prevent hospital-acquired infections by themselves, according to the authors of a recent study who recommend an interdisciplinary approach to infection prevention. Researchers from the Columbia School of Nursing recommend that nurse leaders take the lead on making sure that an interdisciplinary team is adhering to existing infection prevention policies and recommending new policies that should be in place.

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